Art Museum Welcomes New Registrar

New museum registrar Theresa Rykaczewski in the Covington Center gallery in front of one of the mueseum's largest peices.

After a gap of several months, Radford University’s art museum has a new registrar, artist Theresa Rykaczewski, a Florida transplant.

Before relocating to her new home, Rykaczewski (pronounced Ry-ka-shev-ski) taught Fine Arts at Jacksonville University, where she earned her MFA, and served as the Program and Curatorial Director at the Atlantic Beach non-profit, Word Revolt Art Gallery.

“As the museum registrar, my roles include some very technical things like exhibition planning and keeping track of our extensive collection of works,” said Rykaczewski.

“But personally, I believe a registrar is there to engage with the community and get students excited about art,” she added emphatically.

The Radford University Art Museum has its main gallery in the Covington Center and another in the Art Museum on Tyler, both under the direction of Steve Arbury.

“I am thrilled to welcome Theresa Rykaczewski as the new Art Museum Registrar,” Arbury said.

“Theresa fills a crucial role, overseeing many aspects of the museum's operations, including monitoring the collection, maintaining an accurate database, coordinating art movement on campus, and supervising 14 student workers and a Graduate Assistant.”

Illuminated Canopy
One of Rykaczewski's oil paintings, Illuminated Canopy.

Her arrival comes at a great time for Radford’s art museum, which has recently received twenty-four paintings from Mithila (in Northern India) for its permanent collection.

These paintings engage the myths of the region’s Dalit community, a group formerly known as “the Untouchables.” The Dalit number close to 200 million people but their artistic accomplishments have been sadly neglected. 

However, Radford University’s art museum will rectify that with a pair of campus exhibitions opening this fall.

In mid-September, the gallery on Tyler Avenue will host “Martine le Coz: A French Homage to the Ancient Myths & Contemporary Artists of Mithila, India.” One month later, the Covington Gallery will present “Raja Salhesh’s Garden,” composed of original Dalit paintings.

Together, with two other off campus exhibitions in Floyd and Blacksburg, this effort will be the first anywhere in the world to focus on Mithila’s Dalit mythology, art and artists in so much depth.

“In a lot of ways,” Rykaczewski said, “I’m here to shine the flashlight on the amazing things Radford has to offer like this.”

She wants the community both inside and outside of the university to have access to its collection which includes art from Francisco Goya, Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol, among others.

To that end, Rykaczewski plans to improve the museum’s outreach digitally so that anyone with an Internet connection can access images of its collection.

Currently, Radford holds more than 2000 paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and other art items in the permanent collection. Digitizing it won’t happen overnight but when completed, it will be a significant accomplishment.

But it was more than the collection and opportunity that drew her and her husband, poet and novelist Todd Rykaczewski, to Radford University.

She has found the small-town atmosphere a pleasant and inspiring contrast from the constant chaos of city life in Florida.

And not surprisingly, they’ve received a warm welcome to their Pulaski neighborhood in the way southwest Virginia does so well, with homemade applesauce and rhubarb pie.

Jul 25, 2022
Sean Kotz